City's massive new homes plan faces the axe: Residents in limbo after funding cut
HUNDREDS of families hoping to move out of unfit housing and into new homes are in limbo after funding for Hull’s flagship regeneration programme was pulled.
The massive Gateway scheme was meant to transform run-down areas of the city by demolishing poor housing, building new homes and refurbishing existing properties.
Officials in Hull had hoped to attract about £30 million in 2011-12 to keep the long-term programme on track.
Instead, the funding axe confirmed by the Government means only a limited number of new homes already being built will actually be finished.
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Other projects, including property refurbishment and the acquisition and clearance of hundreds of dilapidated houses in west and east Hull – to make way for new house-building – will be put on hold.
It has left many residents who were expecting to move as part of the clearance programme in limbo.
Others who were due to move into new homes in the next few weeks have contacted the Mail to complain that promised cash to help their relocation is now not available.
The funding axe also means 31 Gateway staff members have been told they could be made redundant.
A formal consultation process over their futures is now under way.
Diane Key recently moved into a new four-bedroom house in Mitchum Road, east Hull, as part of the Gateway programme.
Because of funding cuts, she has been told £1,500 previously promised to her to cover the cost of changing her mortgage is no longer available.
She said: “It doesn’t make sense to me to be stopping something like this when the job is only half-done.
“There are already places with loads of boarded-up houses that are just going to be left.
“I feel sorry for the people who are still living there.”
Launched in 2002, the housing market renewal programme was initially one of former Deputy Prime Minister and Hull East MP John Prescott’s flagship regeneration policies.
Councillor Rick Welton, cabinet member for regeneration, said the city council was now lobbying ministers in the hope of securing new funding for Hull to keep the Gateway programme going in some form.
He said: “The thing that has thrown us is this was a national housing programme with a long-term national commitment.
“Stopping it in its tracks without any form of transitional funding is unprecedented.
“It has come at a time when we were starting to see the success of the housing renewal programme.
“In the past two or three years things have really stepped up a pace in Hull.
“The popularity of the new Woodcock Street development is a good example of this.”
Pauline Davis, corporate director of regeneration at the city council, said the authority was informing residents and putting in place a range of support measures.
“Our top priority is to support individual residents who are directly affected by the clearance programme being put on hold.
“It will mean some people who were expecting to be moved next year will not be moving.
“We also need to keep neighbourhoods safe and secure by ensuring a proactive and rapid response to any issues at the sites we have across the city.”
Ms Davis said officials were now looking to securing alternative funding.
This will include a bid to the Government’s new Regional Growth Fund.